Via Title Wave for Books.
Via Title Wave for Books.
How do you know if you are ugly or beautiful? Worth something? Annoying or funny?
Anxiety means it’s all lies; so how do you actually know what the truth it? When do you start believing the voice in your head, having always shouted it down for lying?
I don’t really have any answers yet, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot.
The image is from Nerds with Vaginas on Facebook.
I cannot force someone to forgive me.
I cannot hope someone into loving me.
I cannot rely on someone to fix me.
I cannot control the situation. I can only control my reaction to the situation.
If you haven’t come across Brain Weasels, they’re from this post by Jim Hines. Basically, it’s those little anxiety whirls and conversations that remind you that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO GO WRONG and YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT and OH GOD SERIOUSLY?!
I’ve been having quite a few of those in the last few weeks.
“You messed up the thing.”
“Yeah. I did, and it sucks, but I fixed it.”
“You shouldn’t have made the mistake.”
“People mess up. It happens.”
“You realise this means YOU’RE A COMPLETE FAILURE.”
“I messed up one thing.”
“A really simple, small thing, that you should have remembered.”
“It’s not that bad. I fixed it and everyone’s cool about it.”
“You messed up something so simple – why should we be trusting you with big stuff if you can’t even remember a small thing?”
“Mistakes are how I learn.”
“You should have learned that bit already!”
“I forgot it one time!”
“Which makes you a complete and utter failure.”
Weasels. Bloody, annoying weasels.
The thing is, the weasels are still me. They’re just different interpretations of events, and it does make them harder to fight. I struggle a lot to tell what’s the right course of action sometimes; if I screw something up, then I rightfully should feel bad! That means I’m learning, and I won’t mess it up the next time – but it doesn’t need to come with a side order of COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE…
It makes it hard sometimes to figure out what the right course of action is, or the right response; it’s particularly fun* when it comes to dealing with other people, and – as I’m meeting lots of new people, and adapting to their communication styles and personalities – how to interact. This has not been particularly fun for my love life, frankly, because if you add anxiety to any usual communication and then put a dose of squee on top of it… I seriously hate brain weasels.
“He’s not replying to text messages very fast.”
“You’re being really annoying and texting too much, and he doesn’t want to talk to you.”
“Or he’s busy doing other stuff?”
“He hates you.”
“….or he’s asleep.”
“He hates you.”
“One evening to the next morning is not exactly a long time to wait for a reply.”
“Replying after one hour is reasonable. Overnight is not!”
“One hour is stupidly short when people are actually doing stuff. As most people do with their lives.”
“It’s entirely reasonable! He should have replied already!”
“He’s asleep. Like, you know, people without brain weasels in their head would be at 11pm.”
“He hates you.”
“He doesn’t hate me. If he hated me, he wouldn’t be talking to me at all.”
“Well, why else would he not be replying immediately?”
“Because of all the sensible reasons I just outlined?!”
“He hates you.”
And don’t even get me started on my professional life… arrogant, pompous, self-centered, self-important and imposter are all words that figure with annoying regularity, and even though I continually fight them, it’s such a new area of my life that I’m struggling to see where the balance is. I’m getting there, and I at least have the reassurance that everyone around me is being wonderful at giving me level and perspective! If I ever do get too big for my boots, I know there are wonderful people who will happily smack me down – and that’s a real thing, not some weasel in my ear. Until one of my friends pokes me, I’m probably good; and that’s something I can fight the weasels with.
So…yeah. It’s an interesting learning curve – as soon as I think I’m used to one weasel and have hammered it (or at least got my arguments down), another one pops up! The fun of living with mild anxiety, I suppose. There’s always a new situation, and always a new weasel to happily weasel away in my ear…
Maybe I should teach the cats to chase them!
So I was at FantasyCon 2018 this last weekend in Chester, and honestly…it was a bit weird.
I’ve gone from fangirl and small indie author when I last went to the con in 2016, to a senior editor at an indie publisher and junior editor at a mid-list publisher… and that has very much changed the conversations that I’m now involved in. I’ve gone from, “I’ve written a book and I edit stuff” to “what have you written, because I could be interested in it…” alongside “I write and I edit stuff!” – alongside, of course, the always-interested, “So what are you working on at the moment?”
But it did also give me a chance to think about what those conversations were, and how they’ve changed. Being a relative newcomer to the publishing side of things, and having been a writer and editor a very short time ago…actually, what would I have wanted to know two years ago when I was at the con as an author? What could have helped the people I was meeting to get the best of me as an author and writer?
So, some bits of random advice:
Give me an idea of genre, length, and a very brief idea (as in one sentence) of what your story is, and then another sentence on what makes it stand out (pick one or two themes, characters, settings…) Bluntly, what I need to know is;
a) is this something I can even be interested in as a publisher? (eg. if it’s the wrong genre or style, then I may be interested personally, but I’ll mentally cross it off the list of possibles for my job), and
b) if it is, I want a very brief overview! Catch my interest, make me want to ask you more. And, frankly, this applies to anyone asking about your book, not just publishers – what you’re trying to do is very briefly answer the question, “why do I want to read this?” Because that’s where I’m coming from as a publisher – I want to read it myself first!
And then practise your pitch. Learn it, and trot it out whenever anyone asks – you can always expand on it! But if you start with a long-winded explanation of the background themes…unless I’ve specifically asked about those or we’ve come from a conversation that was relevant to that background, it’s not what I want to start with.
I was guilty of this myself until I put my Grimbold badge on, which has my Twitter handle on it! I recognise names and Twitter handles more than I recognise faces, or I don’t match the two until I see someone – so have it visible!
Mentioning your affiliation is also helpful; if you’re with a particular publisher, or you’ve got a book out that I may have heard of… have a badge, a lanyard, a t-shirt. Give me some hook to go “Oh yes, that thing! You’re part of that/wrote that/know X?”
Or, failing all of that, have something I can ask about! I’m as introverted as the next person – give me something to approach you with, because I suck at approaching people cold.
Blunt, I know, and it sucks. But I can’t use a half-finished novel, and honestly – as a publisher – I can’t really spend time being interested in it until you’ve proved you can finish it. As a writer and generally Dreadfully Enthusiastic Person, I will likely be cheerleading you on to finish it – but professionally, I can’t do much with something that’s not yet ready!
That said…you can always pitch us! But that’s a bit of a different skill and set of circumstances, and I’d need to see that you have a solid background in actually finishing things before I was interested in a pitch for a not-yet-written novel…which still argues for the “finish something” thing.
Also, if you’re getting caught up with re-writing…please don’t. Get words on the page, finish your first draft, THEN worry about all the problems. Seriously. Just finish the damn thing! (This is apparently a bugbear I didn’t know I had…but man, I got frustrated!)
Do it! Absolutely do it. Yes, you have to write with one eye to the market, and so much of publishing is watching what’s commerical and selling and how the genres are working and…but half the stuff I end up reading is mashups, and I think that’s where the fun of the genre comes from. It might not be as easy a sell, but definitely keep going.
Don’t pin your hopes on one project. If you want to make a career of writing, you’ve got to keep going – and if you’ve shopped something around and it’s not sold, then shelve it, write something else. If I (or an agent, or a submissions editor) likes your writing and says, “Well, this project doesn’t quite work because it’s the wrong genre/length/style/I can’t sell it at the moment, but what else do you have?” then what else have you got to show off?
So, there you go…those are my random thoughts!